High definition colors, lights and themes flash,
Rush-hour movement, talk-radio blasts, cars dash,
Goings-on for the day, busy minds rehash,
Without thinking of You.
E-mails zing by the millions, ’round the globe flying,
Salesmen manipulate naive shoppers, prying,
Lottery ticket holder wins a few grand, sighing,
With no room for You.
Theaters fill with eager souls, anticipating the latest,
Boasts echo from arrogant athletes, “I am the greatest!”
Middle East breathes peace for one brief hiatus,
With no regard for You.
Stadiums overflow with painted men, worshipping names,
Names of chiseled figures, skilled at playing games,
Enduring snow, sleet, hail, heat, or heavy rains,
Could this be for You?
Bars full of drunkards, cursing others, adulterating,
Sunday afternoon gluttons, bloated from “buffeting”,
Preacher clicking the mouse in his office, masturbating,
Hiding from all but You.
Church-going man screaming at wife and kids,
Christian contractor making unjust bids,
Mother kills infant and claims it was SIDS,
Breaking the heart of You.
Government waters down murder in the womb,
Brides are unnecessary, groom marries groom,
Preachers envy preachers, their mouths open tombs,
Inviting wrath from You.
Emergents emerged, new programs gain momentum,
“Apostles” have built their empires, but who sent them?
Lacking humility, promoting their books and systems,
In the name of who?
Lord, in this hour when true love has waxed cold,
And we’ve lost the fire of the prophets of old,
For we’ve shirked the heat that would try us as gold,
We need mercy from You.
O, that my eyes were a fountain of tears,
Flowing copiously all of my years,
Until mercy breaks in, until heaven hears,
Until we see You.
Wake us from sleeping, give us Your own view,
Break us with weeping, to love as You do,
Shake us from what’s fleeting, O make us true,
Like You. Only You.
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: apostle, God, intimacy, light, Middle East, poetry, prophets, sin, worship
“…. no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of the human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” -2 Pet. 1.20-21
Please hear this remarkable word from Nathaniel West:
In the hour of affliction we learn more of God’s word, and God’s way, than in a whole age of sunshine and prosperity, and it is well to remember that the prophecies were spoken first in that moment when Israel’s night was the darkest. Paradoxical indeed, it was then that the light was the brightest, the promise the sweetest, and the devotion the deepest. So will it be again. Israel will be able to say, when emerging from the last great tribulation, as when returning from Exile to build the Temple:
“The Lord hath chastened me sore,
But not abandoned me to death.
The Lord is God. He hath given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords,
Even to the horns of the altar!”
Affliction, Light, and Consecration, these are the best handmaids of a true interpretation.
(Nathaniel West, The Thousand Year Reign of Christ; Kregel Publications, p. XVI)
It is often said that we form our theologies and interpret the Scriptures based on the lens through which we look. Depending on the stream of our religious upbringing and our experiences in life, we often interpret passages with our own particular presumption and bias.
It is also said that we often interpret the Scriptures based on the level of willingness we possess to truly hear what they require and promise. In other words, we find in the Word what we want to find, and discard that which demands a higher call to the death of the self-life. We see what we want to see, and no more.
Nathaniel West wrote that “Affliction, Light, and Consecration” are the greatest and most necessary helpers for a true interpretation of the Scriptures.
What do we know of affliction? West is speaking of Israel’s affliction under judgment and exile, but is there an affliction that we willingly give ourselves to, and that would make way for a better interpretation of Scripture? I believe, in at least one aspect, that our self-made value systems, bumptiousness from familiarity, and “know-it-all” attitudes must be afflicted before the Light of interpretation can be opened. We’ve got to crucify our own wisdom, and lay our souls low before the same Spirit that moved the prophets. Are you reading the Scriptures categorically and robotically, or are you turning away from your own frozen knowledge and facing the burning bush that the Scriptures constitute?
Next, there is the element of light. When our own wisdom has been afflicted and set aside, then we are postured inwardly to receive the Light of God through the Scriptures. We must receive Light from the Spirit of God, or else the Bible is an impossible book to engage, enjoy, and receive from. If the same Spirit who rested on and moved the prophets does not rest on us, we will not gather from the Scriptures what the Lord has desired to give. We must ask the Spirit to come with His own Light, otherwise we will not be reading rightly. Therefore, dear saint, we ought to pant for the presence of the Spirit in the midst of our reading, so that Light may come, and our reading may itself become an act of Communion with God.
Lastly, the element of consecration. If we come to the Scriptures with no true intention of consecrating our lives to the Light that He gives us, we are not likely to come into a true interpretation. The Scriptures were not merely given for the formulation of eschatological ideas, the constructing of Doctrinal charts, or any such thing. They were given so that the Eternal God, and His great purpose, would be exposed to Israel and the nations, and that men would come into the reality of what He has always intended; namely, the revelation of Himself, and the glorification of His ways.
If we are unwilling to consecrate our lives to the Light that He gives, we will invariably miss what He is speaking. But if we come to the Scriptures in the same Spirit by which they were written, all the glories of His nature and will become intensely available to us.
“Affliction, Light, and Consecration, these are the best handmaids of a true interpretation.”
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: affliction, Christ, communion, consecration, God, judgment, Knowledge, Nathaniel West, prophecy, prophets, Reality, sacrifice, the bible
This is the final part of this particular article on the theme of ‘Apostolic ministry’. I realize that we have only scratched the surface of this theme. However, hopefully we have now begun to take a new look at the term ‘apostolic’, and may it help bring about a fresh move of the Spirit in the day in which we live. We have looked at Jesus, the sending of the 12, OT and NT theology of these ministries, but it would be a culpable omission if we did not take a brief look at Paul, who was a giant amoung apostles, and was ‘sent’ post the ascension of Jesus.
Part 4 – Paul, apostle to the Gentiles.
The great thing about Paul is that he never calls himself ‘the Apostle Paul’ but rather ‘Paul, an apostle…’ For him the name is descriptive of His ministry but never prescriptive, demanding an ecclesiastical credence.
Another, thing about him is that we not only see this apostolic function in his life and mission, but we read insights by virtue of his epistles. Due to the huge scope of His teaching, it is better for me to just state some of the key activities of his which are in keeping with the above, and also some key statements of his in relation to this ministry.
· Chosen / Sent. He was chosen by God from birth, to this ministry – Galatians 1: 11 – 24
· Recognised not promoted / Released not restricted. He was initially found by Barnabus probably with seeds of Apostolic gifting beginning to bare early on; then recognised and sent out by the local church at Antioch, then at a later time acknowledged by Jerusalem / Wider Church body. (Acts 12, 13 & Galatians 1) Therefore, he probably began manifesting this gift before full recognition came later on. Thus it is important that an apostolic ministry must be revealed to the man first with his immediate peers by the Holy Spirit. This enables him to function as part of a team in that ministry without restriction but with covering (Acts 12: 25.) As that ministry develops and widens, it is then recognised among the wider body of Christ, as with Paul at Jerusalem. NOTE: The later recognition should be recognition of what already exists in function. It is not to prescribe a promotion to higher office, which only then allows such ministry to take place. However, it is obvious that Paul’s initial freedom was borne out of an acceptance of his ministry in Antioch, and carried into the communities he planted rather than those he did not – i.e. Jerusalem. (See 1 Corinthians 9: 1 – 2) His wider recognition came later, and would have enabled other churches that had little to do with him or his ministry to accept him as such.
· Missions. The heart of his ministry was apostolic missionary (1 Timothy 2: 7), in proclamation to the Gentiles of the Good news, teaching, debating, demonstrating the power of the Kingdom of God, discipling believers, ordaining elders and church fatherly aftercare.
· Team. He worked in a team. Barnabus, Silas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus (Plus 20 others at least at different times) It is evident that as well as working in harmony with other 5 fold ministry gifting, he also saw and worked with other apostolic ministries beyond himself. (Romans 16: 7) No ‘apostle’ should display a ‘sanctified independence’. Whilst this distinct ministry is in its nature ‘first’ in function, it is not first in importance. (Romans 12) It is better to think of it ‘first’ in terms of its foundational nature, but rightly related to other ministry.
· He built with prophetic ministry in harmony with the apostolic ministry. His explanation of this in Ephesians 2 and 3, gives us theological understanding in light of the OT explanation in the previous installments. Also, we see His work with Silas, and Acts 16 highlighting such ministry. The prophets with the team would bring revelation of God’s purposes and strategy for mission.
· Fathers & Sons. He trained other apostolic ministries in Timothy and Titus, instructing them in Church aftercare and to ordain elders in every city.
· Builder. He worked as a wise master builder and foundation layer (1 Corinthians 3) after the pattern of His Lord and Saviour – Jesus. That which the Lord had demonstrated, Paul would have copied and put into practice through preaching and teaching.
· Suffering and authority. Due to the foundational nature of pioneering and missions for the Kingdom, great authority would have been manifest, yet for Paul death and the cross life was also a part of both Jesus and his own life. (1 Corinthians 4: 9& 2 Corinthians 10 & 11) For him, apostles were like those in the procession of death and persecution in their warfare type role. Jesus had foretold this. Kingdom authority – yes, but with Cross like sacrifice. Servant / slave was a word Paul often used about himself. Without death to self and suffering, he would not continue to rely only on God’s grace and power in ministry. The Cross was the source of authority for him.
· Apostolic revelation. Another dynamic aspect of Paul’s ministry (which we also see in the preaching and teaching of Jesus) is that of bringing apostolic revelation. The Word says that the revelation of the mystery of Christ has ‘now been made known’ by apostles and prophets (Eph 3: 4 &5). Part of the apostolic function is to bring out by the Spirit the deep revelatory truths of God, which will in turn build the people into Christ-likeness, and prepare them for works of service (Eph 4). The apostle as ‘sent one’ is actually bringing an incarnational ministry of Jesus to the people in a small way. When this happens it puts into the people an apostolic DNA which causes body growth, or an apostolic seed which bears fruit. Paul says, ‘Imitate me, as I imitate Christ..’ The more apostolic and prophetic revelation comes to a people, the more a community looks like their King in possession and practice. This kind of revelation is not weird or flaky but it is deep, and Christocentric in substance, nature and power. This then makes a mature body, which in turn prepares men for eldership, and people for service. Then God is glorified through His Son, by the Spirit in His Body!
It goes without saying that Paul won thousands to the Lord; transformed cities or regions; planted many churches by discipleship, laying on of hands for impartation and ordination. Yet, He also was a humble man, a servant, slave and a soldier not counting his life worth anything but obeying every command from Heaven. His one goal was to bring ALL men into the fellowship of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus was Paul’s apostolic vision for the nations (Romans 1) Without claiming such a Pauline status ourselves, should we not be looking for similar hallmarks today in apostolic ministry?
In Conclusion, it is my conviction today many apostolic ministries are to be found in the unknown places on the front line on the mission field among the nations, although that is not exclusively so. Some are called to mission at home. These ministries often are breaking new ground in diverse Kingdom ways and building according to the pattern. There are those who administer with elders in building God’s people. Others having gone through the missional stage of ministry are now ‘fathers’. They have gone through the ‘giving birth to new works’ stage and now provide a fatherly role in care and counsel, as Paul to Timothy. Both ends of the apostolic ministry spectrum are different stages of the same apostolic gifting, but both equally as valid – sons and fathers. I believe there are different kinds of apostolic ministries, according to the variety that is in God’s heart. Some encouragers like Barnabus, some exhorters like Peter, some edifiers like Paul, but all apostles with the distinct features of apostolic commission, calling and fruitfulness.
Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the great Apostle. Let us do as the original 12, 70 and early church did – and make known the revelation of the Son of God until He comes! Amen
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
3. The New Testament Dynamics of the Apostolic Ministry.
We have seen the first use of the term ‘apostle’, and we have considered the OT and NT prophetic significance of this ministry, that of missions, pioneering, foundational building for the new temple of God. But what does it look like practically? To answer this question we need to evaluate some key lives, which manifest such a calling and ministry.
A: Jesus – the Chief Apostle.
Hebrews 3 says:
1Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
Firstly, in this scripture Jesus is compared to Moses. It is evident in this scripture that Moses carried an OT type of apostolic ministry, as well as priestly. However, Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house, but Christ was the builder and the Son over it! Moses rescued God’s people, but also led them, formed the structure of their national identity in obedience to God’s commands, and he was supposed to lead them into the land of promise, and see them planted by God in that place, after disarming the nations and their powers. He was a ‘Kingdom missionary’ in an OT type of way. His calling was very apostolic!
So too do we see Jesus in a greater way. We must look at the example of He who appoints, sends, gives and perfectly manifests the apostolic ministry – Jesus Christ. If he is the apostle, then there must be something in His life here on earth that demonstrates that in His life & mission. I’d like to suggest the following:
i. He was chosen & sent by God to this world on a Divine mission. (John 3: 16; 8: 16 – 18, plus many more)
ii. His actual physical presence on earth carried the authority of God’s Kingdom as an apostolic representative. The ancient Jewish law says. ‘The one sent, is as the one who sent him…’ We will see that this carries through to present ministry, though Jesus is more than that, as He is the ‘word made flesh, dwelling among us’.
iii. His apostolic ministry has at its heart, mission. Just as Moses not only delivered God’s people but also was commissioned to take them in to promise, so was the apostolic ministry in Jesus one of a ‘NT Exodus’. That was Christ’s mission! It has been said that an evangelist takes people out from bondage, but an apostle takes out, in order to take people into something. Jesus not only manifested a ‘rescue ministry’ but also a purposeful ministry of the Kingdom. He disarmed the powers over the peoples, to bring them into His inheritance, planted in a place of fulfilment, that they may become an apostolic Kingdom people. That was His apostolic mission!
iv. The parables of Mark 4 and the account of Jesus’ ministry in Mark 5, really beautifully demonstrate how the Kingdom of God works. It is my belief that this account carries tones of the apostolic about it, and how Jesus brings Kingdom advancement into new regions. Here the Lord goes on a mission to the ‘other side’ of the lake to deliver a man possessed by demons. In chapter four he has taught on the work of the Kingdom, especially how in seed form it becomes large and spreads. He then goes on to illustrate practically what that looks like in the 5th chapter. Yes, there was a tormented man needing deliverance, but as we study this account we find the region was oppressed also, and that Christ had gone to reach a people, through a man. We see initially, that Christ and the disciples encounter a violent storm en route to the other side. The Lord rebukes the storm in a manner only attributed to demonic powers. I believe the Lord was going to touch a region, as well as a man. On encountering the tormented man, the Word says that they (the demons) begged to stay in the region, hence why they desired to be allowed to enter the pigs. Jesus actually permits them but only for casting them into the sea! Upon his deliverance the man begs to follow Jesus, and the people beg Jesus to leave the region! (Interesting!) The man is not permitted to leave with Christ but to stay and tell all of God’s goodness. The region must be transformed. As the parable of the mustard seed had illustrated, from seed form the Kingdom would grow into something grand and glorious! So it was the case in this region. Kingdom advancement, and planting of Kingdom seed is apostolic ministry.
v. Consider another account in Mark 1. Jesus heals masses out of His great mercy and compassion. He delivers a man from demons with authority. Many from the region of Galilee see, hear & follow, as they have never seen this authority before. After resting in the home of Simon and Andrew, and healing the mother in law, He goes to pray alone the next morning. Again the crowds are waiting at the house, and Simon summons Jesus to come and minister to the crowds. Surely this is the beginning of a ‘great’ ministry. National fame could lead to global magnitude! The world’s first great healing evangelist! (Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of ministry.) Yet the Lord is mindful of the Father’s apostolic purposes, and must visit other towns and villages also. He says in another Gospel account of this story, that this is why He has been ‘sent’. It is one thing to minister to great crowds, and see God move and bring release, but it is quite another to see the mission beyond evangelism. It is apostolic to bring a penetration of God’s rule into physical locations. God wants a representation of His Kingdom, through peoples, in locations. A divine deposit in each location visited. Christ’s apostolic ministry was one of Kingdom advancement, through mission pioneering, penetration of the powers of darkness, and forming a people / disciples to bear witness to that in every location.
vi. The text earlier quoted in Mark 3, where Jesus chooses the 12 to be apostles, is also a key part of His apostolic ministry. He knows that He alone cannot fully perform this ministry, and so designates the same authority of the Kingdom upon them, that they may multiply the apostolic work of the Kingdom. The one ‘sent’ also must be a ‘sender’. This too is apostolic. W.A.C Rowe , a man greatly used of God in the apostolic church UK, which was birthed in the Welsh Revival once said, ‘the apostolic ministry is not a flash of brilliant individualism. It is always glorious team work.’ It is apostolic to raise up others with the same DNA and send them out. This leads us into the next example of 12 apostle’s ministry.
B: The 12 Apostles of the lamb, in particular Peter.
Having chosen the 12, it is not sufficient to place a title upon them alone. It has been rightly said that the ministry gifts are not prescriptive but descriptive of ministry in lives. Therefore, Jesus gives the 12 clear apostolic instructions, which He has embodied and demonstrated for them to carry forth. We must heed to these instructions, because they surely must have played a foundational role in the thinking & activities of the 12, 70 and Church in Acts in their mission to the nations.
We will look at Matthew 10 and examine the elements of this ministry.
i. Verse 5. Here specifics of geographical locations are given. Jesus is the sender. George Ladd says: ‘The Kingdom creates the Church, not vice versa. The Church bears witness to the Kingdom’s activities.’ Therefore, those sent are obeying a call and commission to something / somewhere. Oswald Sanders says: “Missions are to be based on the passion of obedience, not the pathos of pity” So we can see the absolute centrality of the Lord Jesus in the apostolic ministry from the outset, in that He as the Head of the Church is the One from whom all apostolic specifics come. One Scripture says, He sent them (the disciples) where He Himself was about to go. He knows the spiritual dynamics of the nations, and therefore where we would not choose to go, He would often choose, knowing what the key to unlocking a place would be! This takes a unique apostolic dependency by the vessel upon God.
ii. Verse 7. Secondly, their first act in their mission is to proclaim the presence of the Kingdom as good news. They are to announce the Lord’s redemption, power and free grace, based upon repentant lives and faith. What we see in this is God’s ambassadors announcing the ‘invasion’ of God’s rule into the house of the enemy. This is evidenced also in Paul & Barnabus’ ministry in the cities they visited (and the subsequent upheaval!)
iii. Verse 1 & 8. Authority is given for the driving out of powers of the Kingdom of darkness. This is essential in apostolic mission, as one cannot progress to rescue and build something of Kingdom value until the ground is free, so to speak. The spiritual governs the earthly (as with Mark 5 and Luke 11: 14 – 28) and therefore the 12 had to be instructed in this. This ministry of deliverance and healing was evidence that what they proclaimed was fact!
iv. Verse 11 – 16. Apostolic ministry is not only to rescue but also to appropriate God’s rule on earth for a location and people. Therefore, Jesus instructs the apostles to find a house for the ‘shalom of God’ to rest there. Apostolic ministry as demonstrated in Christ, leaves something behind, which produces the fruits of righteousness, peace and joy, in lives and in homes. It is a ministry of reconciliation and restoration of God’s order. What was once previously owned by the powers of the air is now a place of dominion for God and His people. If a house receives this, it knows of grace and peace in the Holy Spirit. From there, the Kingdom, like leaven can spread to the other houses in that place. From this a community of the King is formed that constitutes the congregation / Church of Jesus Christ. A house is the foundation of a community. When a house received the Good news, the men are instructed to stay and make it a base for operations in their mission.
Also, Matthew 16 gives us further insight into the apostolic ministry of the 12, and particularly Peter.
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Here we see the type of authority expressed in the apostolic church. Upon her revelation of the Son of God, given by the Father, she is built by Jesus, as a stronghold of the Kingdom against the powers of hell. Peter, as a foundational part and representative of this apostolic body of God’s people, is symbolically given the keys of the Kingdom, to bind and loose. Again, the heavenly realities are connected to the earthly manifestations. Acts tells clearly of Peter’s administration of this in chapter 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 & 10.
In Acts 8, we see a good demonstration of the apostolic ministry in Peter. Upon Phillip’s evangelistic success in Samaria, Peter with John goes to affirm what is happening and bring authority and order to that revival. It is not two governmental Apostles bringing things ‘under their control’ but rather it is a distinct function at work. Evangelistic success is great, but without something remaining in that region it is wasted. New wine needs a new wineskin. Apostolic insight also brings out any satanic infection in the new work quickly (as we see with Peter and Simon the sorcerer). This is important so that the new house is built without foundational weakness and is fitting dwelling place for the Spirit. It is worth comment also that they upon their return visit other places in Samaria to preach the Gospel. Both Gospel proclamation, and setting things in place for continuation of God’s work are key parts of the apostolic ministry.
So then we see, that apostolic ministry is not a hierarchal governmental office that sits around presiding over everything. No! Rather it is a functioning ministry in harmony with the work of God, yet distinct from the other ministries. It is a powerful ministry, which brings Kingdom authority with it in evangelism and administering God’s work in mission, for the building of His Church. ‘Going’ is a vital part of the ministry, that’s what ‘sent’ means. Nowhere is presiding mentioned or seen. Rather, as WAC Rowe says, apostles should be those who ‘breakthrough’ & ‘blaze a trail’ for the Kingdom, and should be the most progressive of ministries in the Church.
Apostolic ministry in Peter was foundational. No builder can lay a foundation unless he ‘goes’ to the place of choosing. (We cannot build from out of an office, right?) That’s part of the mission – to go!
It is worth here mentioning, James’ role in Acts 15. He is also mentioned in apostolic terms in Galatians 1 & 2. It is apparent here that His apostolic ministry was more to Jews in Jerusalem, rather than the Gentile nations. So was this a ‘presiding kind’ of apostolic ministry? I do not believe so. I believe one can be ‘sent’ to a city, as well as a people or nation / nations. I know of such ministries today, such as Colin Dye in London, or Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong. These ministries are far from presiding bishops (in our understanding); rather they are God’s pioneers and builders for that city. In as much as others plant and do mission in a plurality of locations, so too do these servants reach an entire city by planting a plurality of faith communities in different suburbs or areas of the city. If there is any form of remaining after the initial work it is for the purpose of aftercare with the elders for those churches.
Finally, Acts 10, again we see Peter’s apostolic ministry at work. He is mysteriously apprehended by a vision for the house of Cornelius. Supernatural ministry accompanies the apostolic function due to its Kingdom advancing nature; as does the evangelistic ministry also demonstrate. Peter uses the ‘keys’ to open the door of the Good news of the Kingdom to the gentiles, and the Spirit falls upon the house! Notice the house as a key ingredient to this story. How many missions have failed or been partially successful because we have not taken the Kingdom to a house and remained there! This is apostolic.
In conclusion, from Peter, with John, and indeed Paul, we see that part of the foundation building is the laying on of hands for healing, Baptism in the Holy Spirit and ordination. These are foundational aspects of a foundational ministry that are vital to the ongoing building work of the community of faith.
In the next and final installment will conclude this series by taking a look at Paul, and how the Lord through him has given us a glorious pattern to follow.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
“For because of your trust in your own achievements and treasures, even you yourself will be captured; and Chemosh will go off into exile together with his priests and princes.” -Jer. 48.7
The Moabites were a people who lived in what we now know as Jordan, mostly making their abode along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Their kingdom was often in conflict with Israel, and the God of Israel had a long-standing controversy with them. The prophets testify to this controversy.
Moab, as it is addressed in the prophets, presents the picture of a people poisoned by the spirit of pride, independence, and arrogance. This oracle from the prophet Jeremiah gives them an undesirable promise, that because of their pride and self-sufficiency, they will be captured and even their priests and princes, along with their god Chemosh, will go off into exile. This is to say that even their most ‘divine’ authorities and royal potentates would be of no aid to them in the day of the Lord’s judgment.
One of the characteristics that marks Moab is that as a people, she has been casual and laid back to the point of neglecting the truth of her condition, and the reality of God Himself. Listen to this description the Lord gives of Moab:
“Moab has been at ease since his youth; he has also been undisturbed, like wine on its dregs, and he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, and his aroma has not changed.” (v. 11)
We may have commended Moab for its uniqueness and self-expression, for maintaining its distinctive cultural and religious qualities in the midst of changing times. But the Lord saw Moab as arrogant, non-pliable, and resistant toward Him. He saw them as vessels that had “not been emptied,” and though their “aroma has not changed,” the prophet indicates that the Lord is not pleased with the spiritual “smell” that Moab gives off. Hear the words of J.A. Thompson on this:
Moab is here compared with wine which has been allowed to settle down with its dregs and sediment to age and mature and improve its flavor. It had settled quietly on its lees and had never been disturbed by being poured from vessel to vessel. The picture is one of complacency. But this would soon change.
(J.A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah: NICOT; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI: 1980, p. 705)
The Lord would not continue to endure the presence of Moab’s complacency, and the trust in her own achievements that she feverishly held onto would soon be toppled by the work of His hand.
“‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will send to him those who tip vessels, and they will tip him over, and they will empty his vessels and shatter his jars.'” (v. 12)
Can it be said that much of the Church is living on Moabite grounds? Trusting in our own achievements, proud and self-sufficient, vessels that have yet to be tipped over and emptied of the wine of this age?
What aroma are we releasing into the atmosphere? Forget the way you look in ministry or at some religious meeting. What about the aroma you release in your home… in the work place… in your neighborhood… at the grocery store, etc.? Are we filling the air with our religious opinions? Are we lacking a true expression of the love of God? Are we grumpy and crotchety when the sanctuary lights aren’t shining on us? Are we loose on sin, flatterers of men, or timid weaklings? Are we swept up by the same waves of entertainment, media, and fashion that move and jerk the undiscerning hearts of those who are walking in darkness?
How much of our upbringing and culture that is not of the flavor and aroma of God’s kingdom still lingers in our lives, and what excuses have we secretly made to permit that kind of a mixture? How often are we quenching the Spirit of God and going into modes of speech and conduct that are in keeping with attitudes which our culture may have always accepted and sanctioned, but that the Lord is not in harmony with?
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” -2 Cor. 2.15
Are we functioning as vessels that have not been emptied, that are still filled with the wine of this age? Are we willing daily to be tipped over, emptied entirely, and filled with the Spirit of God Himself? I am convinced that the Church is in a mostly ‘Moabite’ condition, and before the final day comes when the rebellious ‘jars’ are tipped over and shattered, we need to tip over our vessels without reservation, that God may fill us with His own love and purity.
The Lord will only fill those vessels which have been tipped over willingly. The ones that remain upright, recalcitrant and resistant toward His heart and call, will in the last day be tipped against their wills, and shattered by His hand.
We need to be tipped and emptied of the wine of this age, that we may taste of the powers of the age to come. Having been filled with the Spirit of life, we will live and speak as vessels that have been fit to set forth the Son of God to Israel and the nations.
“Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” -Is. 52.11b
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: Christ, darkness, israel, jeremiah, Jordan, moabites, prophets, War
In the first installment of this series on the apostolic ministry (see earlier post), we took a look at the original meaning of the theme ‘apostolic’ as given by the Lord to the 12; that of ‘sent ones’. In this next part we will look at Christ’s Apostolic ministry in particular, and the significance of it then and now.
2. Prophetic significance from OT history & prophets; fulfilled in Jesus.
Mark 11, 12 & 13 capture a remarkable sequence of events in the life of Jesus. It is a time when Jesus is open about His Messianic status like no other point in His life. He did this in the final week before His atoning death and triumph. This was a moment like no other in that He was now declaring Himself as the pioneer of a new day, a new foundation, a new building and a greater glory! This statement of truth about Himself was the ‘Rock of offense’! Thus, because the ‘grace of apostleship’ is the grace of Christ through a vessel, in a smaller but important way, apostolic ministry due to its pioneering and foundational nature causes a great disturbance, but also great glory! Let’s look at why.
Throughout the Gospels & Epistles, Jesus is referred to as the ‘Stone’. (Acts 4, Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2) This is in prophetic fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies in Isaiah ch 28, and Zechariah’s words in his book – ch 4 & 10. It is also wonderfully foretold in Psalm 118.
The overall picture presented in the OT prophecies is that Jesus is both the foundational stone in the beginning of the building process, and Capstone / consummator of God’s house at the end. With Him in the NT teaching, Apostles and Prophets both historically (Eph 2: 20) and now by their present function (Eph 3: 5) fulfil a foundational role in what God is building for His glory, and the Spirit’s dwelling.
We see in Mark’s Gospel 11, 12 & 13 something of the fulfilment of the OT prophetic word conveyed. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem one week before His death and resurrection, and begins ‘ministering’ for a week at the temple. As he enters Jerusalem, the crowds cry ‘blessed is He…’ in fulfilment of Psalm 118: 15 – 29. It is significant because the cry of ‘blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’ is directly related to the Psalmist’s prophetic declaration of the Capstone being rejected and it being the Day that the Lord has made.
After this event in Ch 11: 12 – 19 – the Lord clears the temple, and declares God’s intention for His people – that it is His house of prayer for all nations! The next day Jesus speaks of speaking to mountains, after cursing the fig tree, and using true faith in God. And then in ch 11: 27 – 33 – His authority is questioned. In other words to build something new, must require a fresh ground to work with; every obstacle removed and persistent standing in the face of opposition. What Christ has come to do is lay a new foundation stone in His mission and message. This is apostolic.
In Mark 12 He tells a parable of Tenants who reject the Son, and He quotes the Psalm 118 in fulfilment of the rejection of Him – the Stone, by the Jewish religious leaders. He then teaches in the temple for a few days. God has suddenly come to His temple!
Ch 13, the disciples marvel at the ‘stones’ of the temple, and the Lord tells them it will be destroyed.
It is evident that Jesus Christ, the Stone, is clearing the way, so to speak, for a rebuilding of God’s house, based upon Himself. It will demand a new understanding of what God is doing in the earth. What God is doing to a physical temple by destroying it, He will perform the opposite by building a new spiritual temple built upon His Son. This is in fulfilment of Zechariah 3 & 4 where the Stone would be laid to shouts of ‘grace / blessings’. Interestingly, Zechariah prophesies to the mountain of opposition that stands before Zerrubbabel and Joshua’s building work, by saying ‘What are you O mountain… you will become level ground.’
Zerrubbabel and Joshua were the commissioned builders against the will of the enemies of Judah (Ezra 4) and yet the prophet brings encouragement to build in the face of opposition. This historic account in the OT is also prophetic of the Lord’s glorious NT work.
So the OT prophetic type is the builder working with the watchman in the building of God’s house. In the NT, the apostle and prophet are foundation ministries for the NT people of God, built upon Jesus! In the both examples it is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of the Lord!
Here we see an OT prophetic view & NT fulfilment of what the great apostle Jesus did in His ministry. He destroyed the temple, and rebuilt it in 3 days! Now we can understand why apostolic & prophetic ministry working together brings great disturbance to the powers of darkness, because it is the taring down of satan’s kingdom, and the laying of a foundation Stone – the message of the Kingdom of God, in Christ. It is a building of a new spiritual temple upon Jesus, the Chief cornerstone. Apostleship is front line ministry, rather than ‘managerial status’. It is rooted in the Man, Christ Jesus, and because of this it will bring commotion but come with great glory from God and to God! Upon Himself, with apostolic ‘building’ ministry and prophetic ‘watchman’ ministry, we can see God’s house built for God’s glory to dwell in by His Spirit.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
Author’s Note: Over the next few weeks I’d like to talk about the apostolic ministry in today’s Church, and how I believe Scriptures reveal it works in the Kingdom of God. I will publish four parts, including looking at Christ, OT prophetic significance, the original 12 including Peter, & Paul.
May God speak to us in regard to these things in a deeper and more precious way!
We are all well acquainted with the Scripture in Ephesians 4: 11,
‘it was He who gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors & teachers…’
It has become a well quoted Scripture in many circles around the world, and thank God that many in the Body of Christ are now embracing it as a present reality in the Church! However, it still produces much disagreement, debate and confusion. And even if many agree with its present truth, much confusion, speculation and even abuse in applying these truths have come.
It is even more so in regard to the apostolic ministry itself, that the truths have become very clouded of late. Not that the Word of God is cloudy on the issue but what men make of the precious word ‘apostolic’ has become cloudy. Thus, abuses abound; who are these people? Men, women, or even both? Are they bishops or spiritual CEOs, or neither? Who has the right to choose or name them? Are there different grades of apostles? Is it an office or a function? Does the ‘apostle’ have the right to ‘make the calls’ and ‘pull rank’ if others disagree?
It is my view that we have to come away from answering these questions, and quarrels in endless debates, and go back to the Scriptures. From there we can see the clear picture the Scriptures portray. (Please be aware that I will not get into the debate of ‘if they are valid ministries for today’, as that question has been answered thousands of times, and I am taking it for granted that the readers will believe it to be so.)
I quote Art Katz in regard to this theme of ‘Apostolic’:
“Like every Biblical word, we will not find the definition in a dictionary. We need rather to be apprehended by the genius of what the word represents… Probably one of the greatest failures of the Church is to be satisfied with verbal statements and creedal affirmations but without the corresponding actuality.”
1. Back to basics. The Apostle as ‘sent one’.
Mark 3: 13 – 15.
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14He appointed twelve—designating them apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15and to have authority to drive out demons.
The scripture above carries some foundational elements to understanding the apostolic ministry, which are in keeping with Ephesians 4: 11 & 1 Corinthians 12: 28. It is that ‘He’ – Jesus Christ has appointed these ministries. In this Scripture in Mark 3 we see the following:
Firstly, there is a Pattern. While on the mountain in prayer (Also see Luke 6: 12 -13) – Jesus calls and man responds / Jesus appoints & designates – His servants ‘go’. This shows that initiative is God’s, not man’s, in the raising up of this ministry. He by the Spirit imparts the gifts and graces needed. He calls and anoints His servants for such a task. Man’s duty is to respond.
There is also a Meaning. Mark 3 (Also read Luke 6) is the first time in the life of Christ and the disciples that the word ‘apostle’ is used to define a ministry. That means that this initial use of the word should be deemed as key to any future understanding of its meaning. For example, the meaning of the word ‘apostle’ and how that meaning relates to its function today, is to be understood in terms of what we then go on to see evidenced in the life of Jesus and these 12 men in the Gospels from this point. It is also from this significant point that the Lord Jesus delegates the authority and power of this ministry upon the 12 ordinary men; it is from this key moment that this ministry begins to be seen in their lives. We will discuss this more later on, when examining the 12’s particular ministry.
The word ‘apostle’ means ‘sent one’. That is, one commissioned with a Divine mission or message by God to a people. Think of a ship, bearing special cargo, on a mission to take it to a specific destination.
So then, the word ‘sent’ carries a missionary call & dynamic to it. It is a word of action and commissioning; it is also a word of authority and representation from the sender. It is a ‘go-ing’ word! If we remember this, we will rightly understand the spiritual dynamic contained in this ministry.
In the OT, Exodus 3: 10 & 12, God calls and meets with Moses in the Burning Bush encounter. We again see the Apostolic God revealing Himself, calling His servant, commissioning him to His purposes, sending His servant to a particular mission with the sender’s authority and message. It is worthy to note, Stephen in Acts 7 gives an account of Moses calling at the bush, uses the word ‘send’, which is an apostolic word. Moses really fulfils an OT type of apostolic ministry.
There is a message. The Scripture in Mark 3 specifically says that the sending was in connection to them preaching. Preaching is a vital ingredient in the apostolic ministry, but not just any preaching. I believe there is a kind of ‘apostolic preaching’ that brings the authority of the Gospel of the Kingdom to bear in virgin territory, and establishes God’s rule through the building of new communities of faith. This preaching is one of tearing down in order to raise up. It is an appropriating ministry accompanied by signs and wonders that can change a region. This preaching also carries a foundational grace that reveals Jesus Christ both theologically and experientially to the newly formed community. It takes the newest of believers to the depths of discipleship in such a way that, ‘Christ is formed in them…’ and they in turn become a Christ centred apostolic people.
In part 2 of this article we will look at how Jesus Christ began to fulfill Old Testament prophecies as the Great Apostle of our Faith.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
“The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” -Rom. 13.12
The nature of God’s Kingdom, the way of His government, the glory of His leadership has everything to do with increase. When it comes to the vision of His coming Kingdom, the day when He returns to set the world aright, we see pictures of upheaval, shaking, and trial, followed by everlasting peace, abiding joy, and the entire universe permanently being marked by the righteousness of God. The visions and words of the Biblical Prophets are sure words, completely worthy of our examination, reflection, and obedience. The neglect of the Biblical Prophets has done great damage to the Church in our generation.
Yet and still, it is quite possible in thinking about future tribulation and glory to be distracted from the glory of the Kingdom which the Lord intends to break into the earth through the fallen “earthen vessels” that we are. Paul’s perception of the end of the age is not pessimistic or depressive. He was fully aware of the shakings to come, the future toppling of governments, the cataclysm and trials that lie ahead. Indeed, he was a preacher of the judgment to come. (Acts 24.25)
Though he was aware of the difficulties to come, Paul’s vision was that the night was almost gone, the darkness was dissipating, and that because Christ has been exalted, the day of God is on the positive rise in the lives of the saints. He saw the nature of the Kingdom in the lives of those who believe to be one of increase: the increase of light, the increase of love, the increase of righteousness, the increase of Christ Himself. It was a vital reality to him, and it is available to all in our day and age who would “lay aside the deeds of darkness,” and receive the Holy Spirit.
“The night is almost gone, and the day is near…” Are you turning from “carousing and drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality, strife and jealousy?” Or are you still walking blindly beneath the veil of darkness? Turn from the night, for the day is dawning friends. It is time to receive the Holy Spirit, and if you ask the Father for bread He will not give you a stone.
When the Holy Spirit comes, He will show you the Christ in the beauty of His holiness, and the glorious light of His nature will increase in your life.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: darkness, holiness, Holy Spirit, light, prophecy, prophets, purity, sin
Editor’s Note: A previously published article from Dr. Brown. An important message to take to heart for those of us trying to make an impact in our culture.
When we think of the words “unyielding and hardened,” we think of stubborn sinners defiantly refusing to heed the message of God, of proud and obstinate rebels firmly entrenched in their arrogance and intransigence. We think of sinful hearts that refuse to bow, of determined and resolute wills that mock that which is sacred and disdain that which is holy. We think of the image of the earthly, not the heavenly.
Yet sometimes it is God Himself who makes His servants unyielding and hardened. He does it for His glory, and He does it for their good. It is part and parcel of the prophet’s call. The prophet must be immovable — utterly. The prophet must be a rock.
The Lord said to Ezekiel that:
the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to Me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are (Ezek. 3:7-8).
The Lord fights fire with fire!
God’s people would not listen to His words. They were defiant and resistant. How could the prophet withstand the pressure? How could he weather the storm? How could he stand firm and hold fast to the commission of the Spirit? The people were so hard. The prophet had to be harder still! Once he moved an inch, the battle was lost.
I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house (Ezek. 3:9).
Yes, Ezekiel, I will make you harder than flint!
This was also the word of the Lord to Jeremiah:
Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land — against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land (Jer. 1:18).
Jeremiah had to be “a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall.” He was standing against everyone!
Some of us get rattled when one unkind word is spoken against us, or when a leader doesn’t pay sufficient attention to us, or when our friends fail to recognize our gifts, or when our unsaved co-workers avoid us because of our faith. Talk about shallow security and shifting assurance! What would we have done if were in Jeremiah’s shoes?
The kings, the princes, the officials, the priests, the prophets, the people as a whole, and even his family stood against him. He had no wife or children, by the direction of the Lord (Jer. 16:20), and he was almost completely without friends. This man was alone in this world. Yet God told him to stand against the crowd, to refuse to be moved, to proclaim a word of terrible judgment and hardship, to declare that the ruthless enemy king was actually the servant of the Lord, that it was God’s will that the chosen people go into exile. How could this be?
“Jeremiah, back down! Look at this thing rationally. Listen to the voice of reason. Everyone can’t possibly be wrong. The leaders can’t all be misled. The prophets can’t all be deceived. The priests can’t all be in error. Nobody else is proclaiming such harsh things. Nobody else is telling us that our women will be raped, our children orphaned, our men slaughtered in battle. Nobody else is telling us that the Temple of the Lord — the very dwelling place of the God of the whole earth — will be destroyed. Never! Jeremiah, come our way and join the crowd. It feels so right to be accepted. It feels so good to be loved. Surely you’re not the only one hearing from God. You’re not a fanatic, right?”
Actually, what God calls faithful the world calls fanatical. Sometimes the pressure is intense! It is true that the prophet is made for pressure and that pressure makes the prophet, but Jeremiah was human, just like us. He needed affirmation and encouragement. He longed for moral support just like we do. The insults and taunts and hatred and rejection of the people must have stung him deeply. What did it feel like to be Jeremiah? His suffering was almost unbearable:
Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth, a man with whom the whole land strives and contends! I have neither lent nor borrowed, yet everyone curses me (Jer. 15:10).
O LORD, You deceived me, and I was deceived; You overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long (Jer. 20:7-8).
Surely a little compromise would be acceptable. Surely there must be some movement on Jeremiah’s part. It was impossible that so many good people could be so wrong. Surely the Lord understood both sides of the story. Surely He was not so inflexible. Hardly:
“Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the LORD (Jer. 15:19b-20).
There it is again! The prophet was called to be a mountain of holy resistance. “Jeremiah, do not budge!”
Listen to the cumulative force of these words from the Lord. God made the prophets as unyielding and hardened as the most obstinate sinners, with foreheads like the hardest stone, harder than flint, like a fortified city, a bronze wall, and an iron pillar. God built them up and God backed them up.
For the prophet, compromise was more bitter than death, and finding the middle ground was an act of treachery against the Lord. As Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30). Jesus was no people-pleaser either. In the prophet’s education and calling, there is no “Politics 101.” Who ever heard of a politically correct prophet? How we need the true prophetic spirit again in our day!
Of course, as to our character and attitude we must be meek and lowly, quick to listen and slow to speak, easily approachable, ready to learn, willing to receive correction, open to godly reason, submitted and submissive, teachable and kind, not argumentative but speaking the truth in love. Still I ask you, didn’t Jesus exemplify those characteristics to perfection? And yet He was absolutely inflexible and unyielding when it came to doing the will of His Father. He could not be moved. And wasn’t Paul a walking model of a godly, Spirit-filled minister? Yet who more than Paul refused to go the way of the crowd? Who more than Paul shunned compromise like the plague? It was Paul who asked the Galatians:
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).
Pleasing men and serving the Lord are often incompatible — totally.
Of course, I know there are fanatics and weirdoes who have separated themselves from the Body and who think they are on some kind of divine mission. They and they alone have the revelation. They and they alone — along with their motley little group of self-anointed spokesmen and self-appointed martyrs — have the truth. I am fully aware that there are some flakes out there who believe that the Spirit tells them to wear shorts and a tee shirt in the snow as a test of their obedience. (Why is it always those people who tend to be the most bold and vocal “witnesses,” always carrying their Bibles — their very big, prominent Bibles, of course — and never failing to show up just when you are finally reaching someone with the Good News? Why are they often the ones whose vehicles are so covered with gospel bumper stickers that you can’t even tell if they’re driving a car or a truck?)
To such people I say this: Grow up! Get into a congregation and practice submission. Take the low road and learn in quietness. If God has given you a word, He will make it known. Get your personal life in order and make a meaningful contribution to society (maybe starting right in your own home?). Your end-time prophetic mission to the universe can wait a few more years.
More seriously, there are really tragic cases of truly fanatical acts. I cringe when I think of the deeply deceived and disturbed individuals who have burned babies in ovens and shot, stabbed, and strangled at the supposed direction of the Lord. What a terrible and pathetic shame. What an ugly, inexcusable reproach. The Word of God and the voice of God never led these people to commit such atrocious acts, and nothing I am writing here is directed to such demented souls. What they need is a new heart through repentance and faith. What they need is to be saved from their sins.
But please hear me: There have always been religious fanatics, spiritual weirdoes, Bible-quoting flakes, and demonized pseudo-believers misrepresenting the Spirit of God. There have always been counterfeit Christians, bogus believers and satanized saints wreaking havoc in the name of the Lord. They existed in the days of Jesus, and they exist in our day too. Our error has been to retreat from righteousness because of the extremists and to tone down our message because of the fanatics. Our sin has been to compromise for the sake of “correctness” and to muddle the truth for the sake of middle ground. We justify our comfortable seat on the sidelines of non-commitment because others “take things too far.” As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed so well, “We often excuse our want of [involvement] by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.”
This is sheer spiritual suicide, and it is guaranteed to fail. It is the way of the world and the formula of the flesh. It is Satan’s trap, and it is set to ensnare. Only the inflexible will escape. Are you entrapped? How have you fared on the day of testing? Remember: Temptation can come in the form of death threats or in the form of sweet promises. Have you held your ground in the face of temptation? Have you withstood the onslaught of the enemy and the world?
Are you inflexible when it comes to the clear and indisputable standards of God’s Word? Or have you compromised your convictions to keep the peace or to make your way up the ladder in your church or business? Have you quenched the persistent voice of the Spirit because it was too hard to go against the grain? The world can be intimidating. The church can be intimidating. Your friends and family can be intimidating. Your fellow-leaders can be intimidating. Have you feared the face of man, or have you feared the face of God?
And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak My words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you (Ezek. 2:6-8).
Do you grasp what God said to Ezekiel? They are rebellious; they don’t listen to Me. Don’t you be rebellious! Receive My commission, ingest My message, and declare My words to My rebellious people without flinching, without holding back, without watering down the truth. Not to speak is to rebel.
Again it is recorded in the book of Jeremiah:
Early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: “This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word (Jer. 26:1-2).
Tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
This was a quality that made Samuel great. When he was still young and after receiving his very first word from God — a frightful, terrible word — the Scripture says: “So Samuel told him [i.e., Eli the priest] everything, hiding nothing from him” (1 Sam. 3:18). He held back nothing, even though that word from God promised judgment and destruction on Eli’s very household. Samuel told the truth. As a result,
The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and He let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD (1 Sam. 3:19-20).
God would back us up too, if we would learn to declare His Word, directly and without dilution.
Yet so often we are weak-kneed wimps. We crumble like cookies and have as much staying power as spaghetti: When the water gets hot, we get soft. Where is our courage? Where is our conviction? Where is our commission?
It will take faces like flint and foreheads like bronze to stand strong in the midst of the world’s immoral madness and the church’s moral morass. Only those who are deep in Him will be able to confront the shallowness of this superficial age. Only those with roots will withstand the flood to come. Are you standing today? Are you firm? Are you moved forward by God, or do you move backward away from God?
For many years I have written and preached that we hardly realize how far we have fallen — as a nation, as families, as individuals, as a church. True restoration will be more radical than most of us (including myself) can imagine. And while we are certainly making spiritual progress in many ways, and while the Lord is truly moving in our midst, we dare not think that we have arrived, that times of refreshing are proofs of total approval, that an increase in spiritual life and power means an increase in prophetic truth and character. No! We must make a determined, fresh stand. We must recover the spirit of holy inflexibility, of divine immovability, of prophetic intransigence. We must reclaim the posture of the uncompromising overcomer — even if it costs us our lives:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Rev. 12:10-11).
May this be our story too: overcoming the pressures of this age, refusing to cave in or give up, ruthless with the flesh, radical in the Spirit, obedient even to death. May God make us harder than flint. May we yield to Him alone.
Posted in Revolution & Justice Tagged with: compromise, ezekiel, jeremiah, old testament prophets, prophecy, prophets
The latest edition of our online magazine is now available, focusing in on the very important and controversial issue of prophets and prophetic ministry today.
Are there bona fide prophets in our midst? If so, how do we relate to them? How do they relate to the Body as a whole? What about the characteristics of New Testament prophets? How can all of us as believers learn to be more sensitive to the voice of God and become a prophetic people? And how does all prophecy ultimately point us to Jesus and His vision for this world?
These questions demand solid, practical, biblically-based answers, so dig into these articles, get involved in the discussion, and share the VOR with your friends!
Take a sneak peak at Dr. Brown’s soon to be released commentary on the Book of Jeremiah, thanks to Zondervan publishers, in Entering the World of Jeremiah.
Andrew Yeoman takes a look at the role of New Testament Prophets and Prophecy as put forth in Scripture in The Heart of Prophecy.
Christy Scott encourages the Church to hold on to God’s prophetic promises in Have You Heard Voices?
Bryan Purtle considers the question “What Manner of Man is the Prophet?” with excerpts from the writings of Abraham J. Heschel in The Prophet’s Cosmic View.
Finally, VOR’s Editor proposes a shift in thinking concerning evangelism and doctrine in The Prophetic Gospel.
For further in-depth teaching on the subject of prophets and prophecy, make sure to check out Dr. Brown’s audio teaching series: Prophets and Prophetic Ministry.
Posted in Lead Article Tagged with: prophecy, prophets